VENTURA, Calif. -- Ventura County Public Health leaders said they’re on board with lifting the regional stay-at-home order — even with last week’s record number of patients in the intensive care unit.
On Monday, Ventura County restaurant owners were getting outdoor dining areas ready to reopen, but the weather was not cooperating.
“It has been tough,” said Jan Holguin, who owns Casa Bella steak house in Ventura. “It has been ruined like four times. We had to replace all the plastic walls that protect it from the weather and everything on top blew off. It took us like a whole day to get it back to where it was.”
Ventura County now returns to the state's color-coded reopening plan, specifically the most restrictive purple tier. In this tier, restaurants, gyms and wineries can once again reopen outdoors.
“Believe me we are super grateful, and we are super excited about opening up, but it was a little confusing because one minute it was about the cases, and one minute it is about ICU beds,” said Holguin. “What is it? You know it's disturbing that we have been closed for seven weeks and there hasn’t been a consistent theme.”
Just last week, Ventura County reported a record 91 patients in the ICU, but the state's projections show capacity is growing in the Southern California Region.
“We discussed that with our health officer,” said Rigo Vargas, who is the Ventura County Public Health Director. “We determined that our numbers are trending in the right direction. Our case rate, while still high, is trending downward and so we know that many other businesses are hurting and we need some good news locally and so we wanted to also be in alignment with the state.”
However, if cases spike, the stay-at-home order will come back.
“By the time we are expected to get herd immunity with the vaccinations, that is months away from now,” said Vargas. “A surge can happen at any time, and so even though we are all tired of being told what to do when it comes to COVID, we really can't let our guard down.”
Despite the weather, restaurant owners are excited to return to some kind of normalcy.
“We are going to open tonight, and tomorrow it is supposed to be nice, so we are going to open tomorrow, and then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday we will play it by ear and see,” said Holguin. “We are going to find a way.”